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Course Measurement and Certification Procedures

Statement of Requirements

There are seven basic steps involved in measuring a course for certification. These are:

  1. Lay out an accurate calibration course. The calibration course must be a straight stretch of paved road that is reasonably level and relatively free of traffic and at least 300 meters in length. You may wish to check with the nearest regional certifier to determine if there is a suitable calibration course near you.
  2. Calibrate the bicycle. Ride the bicycle over the calibration course, taking care to ride in as straight a line as possible. At least four calibration rides must be made immediately prior to measuring the race course. The "working constant" is the number of counts/km (or per mile) times the short course prevention factor of 1.001.
  3. Measure the course. Ride the bicycle over the course, following the shortest possible route as it will be available to the runners on race day. At least two measurements over the course are required for certification. Use the first measurement to establish tentative start and finish marks. Use the second (and any subsequent) measurement to check the distance between those same marks. In particular, during the second measurement, simply record counts at the points already marked during the first measurement. Do not make new marks on the road during the second measurement. If you measure on different days, calibrate both before and after measuring on each day.
  4. Recalibrate the bicycle. Ride the bicycle over the calibration course at least four times immediately after the course measurement(s). After recalibrating, determine your constant for the day, which is the larger of the pre-measurement (working) constant, or post-measurement (finish) constant. (Note: Measurements calculated using the average of the working and finish constants will also be accepted; however, use of the larger constant is strongly preferred.)
  5. Determine the proper measured course length. Recalculate each measured distance using the appropriate constant for the day. If you only measure the course twice, the proper measured length is the smaller value. E.g., you measure between the same start and finish points and obtain distances of 10,000 and 9,993.7 meters. The proper measured length is 9,993.7 meters. If you measure three times, the proper measured length is the smallest value. If you only measure twice, the two measurements may not differ by more than 0.08% or you must take a third measurement.
  6. Make the final adjustments to the course. If the proper measured length differs from the desired (or advertised) course length, you will need to adjust either your start, finish, or a turn-around point. These adjustments may be made with a steel tape. Once all the measurements have been completed, the proper set of marks should be made permanent and all others should be erased.
  7. Submit applications and supporting documentation to your regional USATF/RRTC certifier (see Appendix F for the application forms). Carefully record all data taken and prepare a map showing the course layout, details of the start and finish zones and turn-around points, and any areas where the certification will require erection of barriers that restrict runners to a path longer than the shortest path available using the whole roadway (but note: for simplicity and to minimize the chance of having your course found short, it always best to lay out courses without any "restrictions" of this sort). In drawing the map, it is also highly desirable to include a line which displays the actual path measured through the course.

Note: Maps of all certified courses are now available online. Measurers should be aware that their maps will be posted on the Internet for all the world to see. Runners who are thinking of running a race may view its map at this site. And race directors who are thinking of hiring a particular measurer may view maps that the measurer has produced, as evidence of the quality of this measurer's work.

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